Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

Latest News

March 13, 2013

Grackles enjoying life in Corsicana

Corsicana — The cackle of grackles congregating at the intersection of Interstate 45 and U.S. 287 may look like something out of “The Birds,” but they’re really just traveling through. Grackles are migratory birds and while they love wide open spaces with plenty of electricity wires, they aren’t here forever. It just looks like that because when one group leaves, another cackle takes its place, according to biologist David Sierra, with the Texas Parks and Wildlife.

“When you put up open parking lots and clear out areas, that gives them a new habitat to inhabit,” Sierra said. “Corsicana is on the range of much more open land and grackles prefer open land and open fields. They’re not a woodland bird.”

The enormous flocks of birds used to hang out downtown, but repeated firings with the city’s noise cannon and other efforts made it less attractive for the birds.

Because they are considered migratory birds, it’s illegal to kill them, but cities and counties can get special permits from the federal government for killing grackles. A better idea is just to shoo them away, Sierra said.

He admitted it’s not quite that simple.

“They’re not communal nesters. It’s the roost that most people see with grackles,” Sierra said. “The roost can be moved, but it takes a little work and effort. You can’t just have two or three people out there. You have to have a lot of people out there when they’re trying to move the roost and keep them moving.”

The main method is to start just before dusk with a lot of noisemakers and even firehoses to prevent the birds from landing, he said.

“After about three nights of that they’ll go elsewhere,” he said.

The City of Corsicana struggled with grackles year after year in downtown Corsicana using sound cannons and other non-lethal means. Until the last couple of years, that is, when the birds evidently just moved.

“They don’t like the mosquito spray, and while we were spraying for mosquitoes last year they exited,” said City Manager Connie Standridge. “They did not like the mosquito spray.”

Assistant Manager at Mickey’s Exxon Annie Clemons said the biggest problem with the thousands of birds is their waste, although their sheer numbers can be a little intimidating.

“They use the bathroom all over the place,” she said. “For as long as I can remember they’ve been here at this corner. They’re always here, I don’t know why. They kind of gross me out.”

They may seem like they’re constant, but the birds are actually different cackles of grackles, Sierra said.

“What you’re seeing is different groups,” Sierra said. “They don’t all migrate at once. No one gives them a memo saying ‘it’s time to go.’ It may seem like they’re there year-round, but it’s usually different groups of these birds.”

The appeal of Navarro County, and the slightly urban setting of Corsicana is pretty basic — wide open spaces, fairly quiet setting, nice places to sit and chat, and snacks. The location of fast food restaurants and convenience stores makes it easy to nab a tater tot or other easy meal.

“They congregate in cities because there’s a lot of food and places for them to roost in the evenings,” said Jay Whiteside, also a biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife. “They’re well adjusted to urban life. They’re omnivores. They have a varied diet of seeds and insects, and part of the reason they adapt so well to urban life is because there’s basically a smorgasbord of food for them.”

Getting them to move on involves getting the public to not throw food out their car windows, having the cooperation of local businesses in keeping their parking lots spotless, and then there’s the three-day noise fest.

“They’ll leave out in the fall,” Sierra predicted. “It’s one of those things. How long do you want to put up with it?”

     —————

Janet Jacobs may be reached by email at jjacobs@corsicanadailysun.com. Want to “Soundoff” on this story? Email: soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com

 

1
Text Only
Latest News
  • 7-29-14 Lassiter.jpg Lassiter named new Calico director

    Brittany Watkins-Lassiter has been named the new Calico Director for Corsicana High School. Lassiter replaces Amy Tidwell, who resigned to become the dance squad coach in Sachse ISD.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • 7-29-14 McManus.jpg County OKs mall lease

    The question of where many county courthouse offices would move during the three-year historical restoration of the Navarro County Courthouse was officially answered Monday.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • City approves new building rules

    The Corsicana City Council eased somewhat the standards for masonry buildings on highways when the group met in regular session Monday.

    July 28, 2014

  • Local Beat

    A listing of meetings and events of interest from throughout Navarro County.

    July 28, 2014

  • FAA proposes to fines Southwest Airlines $12M

    WASHINGTON — The Federal Aviation Administration said Monday it is proposing a $12 million civil fine against Southwest Airlines for failing to comply in three separate cases with safety regulations related to repairs on Boeing 737 jetliners.

    July 28, 2014

  • Jury says it is stuck in Ventura case after five days

    ST. PAUL, Minn. — The jury weighing former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura's defamation lawsuit against "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle has told the judge they don't think they can reach a unanimous decision.

    July 28, 2014

  • City, county start week with meetings

    The Navarro County Commissioners Court and the Cosicana City Council both have meetings set for Monday.

    July 28, 2014

  • 7-27-14 HayFire.jpg Hay fire closes Interstate 45

    A hay trailer fire Sunday on Interstate 45 near Richland shut down the highway

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • County values up for 2014

    The property value of Navarro County went up 5 1/2 percent in value for 2015, a rebound from the last two years when the city and county were reeling from the loss of some major companies’ plants.

    July 26, 2014

  • Mills place pool Home, sweet home

    Judy and Wayne Nelson had a family of visitors last week — the daughter and grandchildren of the architect who designed their 1927 house on Mills Place.

    July 25, 2014 4 Photos